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When a recipe calls for toasted spices?

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This is probably so silly, but when a recipe calls for "toasted" spices, does that mean I put int in a pan and toast them? I have a recipe for a pork tenderloin with toasted cumin, cayenne pepper, and some other spice, can;t remember.

Do I just put them in a pan..do I use any oil?

Thanks so much!

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  1. I toast spices two ways. The first is in a toaster oven at about 400ยบ, but for cumin, I would do the second way. Dry frying pan, medium heat. Move the pan around a lot since the cumin can burn. When the color deepens and your kitchen smells of cumin, turn off the heat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smtucker

      Yes, dry pan, keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. If you can find whole cumin, toast it and then grind it (in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle) and the flavor will absolutely knock you out.

    2. The dry spices are put in a heavy pan or skillet with nothing else... no oil. If you are using ground spices they just need to be heated until they smell good. Whole seeds will take a bit longer than the ground. I wouldn't do them together so as not to burn the ground spices. You are just heating them until the oils in the spices are warmed. When that happens they smell great, and have a more intensive taste.
      The pork tenderloin sounds great.

      1 Reply
      1. re: The Old Gal

        A number of those whole spices pop and jump out of the pan as they heat up - so keep a lid of some sort on hand. i just watched Alton's show on spices, where he used a spatter screen to keep them in the pan. But you still need to keep on eye on them so they don't burn.

        In my experience, cumin is the spice that benefits most from toasting.

      2. I prefer to use my well-seasoned cast iron to toast spices. Pre-heat the skillet over medium heat before adding the whole spices, shake frequently to prevent burning, as other posters have said. Also, if the recipe calls for grinding the whole spices, pour them out of the skillet onto a plate and let them cool before grinding. That way you won't lose so much to the grinder. T

        1. i bought a small cast iron le creuset at the outlet. discontinued pc which i use only for toasting spices. as the other op's have written keep an eye on it and do roast spices frequently for max flavor.

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodwich

            I have a little aluminum "caldero" (about 1 or 1-1/2 cups) with a lid.

            Its great. I put the lid on, keep the heat low, and go by smell/sound.

            Mostly, I use this for Sichuan "pepper."

            BB

          2. Thanks so much everyone!!! Now I think I can master "Toasting Spices 101"!!

            happy 4th!!!